How to Choose the Right Country for Overseas Study

Woman at a table writing in a notebook; choose the right country for overseas study

If you’ve decided to study abroad, congratulations on taking the first step on an exciting journey. Next comes the planning, and no decision is more important than choosing the right country for overseas study. Cost is a major consideration for most students, and choosing a cheaper country could make it achievable. So what are the cheapest countries for studying abroad?

Is a cheap location and degree a good idea?

So you want to study abroad, preferably in a cheaper country. But is a cheap location and degree a good idea? Meeting your budget is a critical consideration; obviously, you need to be able to afford it. But you may not want to put price first when choosing a country for overseas study.

Instead, consider your career goals and how the specific program you’re looking at will help you accomplish your goals. Is the course accredited by relevant national or international bodies? Will it give you the knowledge and skills to pursue your career plans and find employment? If you’re in a field with professional licensing, you might want to make sure the program gives you credits that count towards the licensing criteria.

A cheap country or degree doesn’t have to be a lesser choice, however. Balancing price with other factors is the best approach. Consider career prospects and benefits, quality of program and teaching staff, institutional reputation and accreditation status. An institution in a cheap country offering the right program for your career needs provides the best of both worlds.

Factors to consider when choosing a country for overseas study

After ensuring the country offers the right study program for you, consider the biggest costs you’ll be facing.


The cost of your airfares is easy to overlook, but work out how often you’ll be flying home. Estimate the likely total cost of your airfares for your entire degree or program to get an accurate picture of your travel costs. This could be thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. This makes it a significant expense to budget for ahead of time.

Exchange rates

Consider how much it will cost in your home currency, not just the destination currency. In addition, currency fluctuations can have a minor to a significant impact on the affordability of your study-abroad experience. If the exchange rate is likely to fluctuate, make sure you have an emergency savings buffer to fall back on.

Cost of study

Tuition fees is one of two top cost factors to assess, along with the cost of living. Consider the tuition fees when weighing up which countries meet your budget. Use search engines, course sites and other online resources to find out how much different study programs in your field cost.

Keep in mind the cost of study also includes extras like textbooks, course materials, stationery and other study-related costs.

Cost of living

Do research to find out how much the cost of living expenses will likely be. This includes everything from accommodation and furnishings to groceries and eating out. You’ll want to budget for transport, utilities, internet, phone, personal care, medical and dental, entertainment, sightseeing and travel, clothing and other living costs.

Another way to do research on the cost of different countries for studying is to seek out the experiences of other students. Look online for their accounts and ask them questions. Find out as much as you can about their experience with costs in these countries, including unexpected or hidden costs you might not have taken into account.

The cheapest countries for studying abroad

Universidad de San Jose; choosing the right country for overseas study

The following countries are some of the cheapest countries for studying abroad.

  • Mexico: Home to well-regarded universities like Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, it’s recognized for its affordability and low living costs.
  • Costa Rica: Offers you the opportunity to study on the cheap in a paradise setting, with Universidad de Costa Rica among the top universities in the country. Rent, transport, food, and entertainment tend to be highly affordable.
  • Malaysia: With low tuition fees compared to some English-speaking countries, Malaysia makes an ideal destination for students looking for a cheaper education. You can opt to study at local branches of globally recognized universities like Monash University (of Australia).
  • Germany: Though living costs might be higher, Germany’s institutions offer accredited programs for free or surprisingly low tuition rates. The top school, Freie Universität Berlin, does not charge any tuition for undergraduate programs.
  • Norway: Norway is another great option for those wanting to study in Europe as most of its public-university programs are free for everyone. However, like Germany, Norway comes with a qualification: although tuition is free, it has higher living costs.
  • Taiwan: One of the top options for studying on the cheap in Asia. Its top institution, National Taiwan University, has a good global ranking and the country’s university tuition rates and living costs are low by world standards.

It is possible to study abroad on a smaller budget as long as you do your research on the local cost of living and study-related costs. Make sure your chosen degree or program fits your career goals and you could end up saving on student loans without compromising on your qualifications.

About Sam Want

Sam has written for multiple online publications and loves to travel.

Other posts by the Author

Leave a Reply